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by DaryI Brower

Daryl Brower: You turn out an amazing amount of work. What fuels your creativity?

Nicky Epstein: I have this physical need to have yarn and needles in my hands. If I don't knit, it hurts. So how did it all begin.7

My grandmother taught me to cast on, but I actually learned to knit from a Spanish woman in my neighborhood. 1 taught her English and she taught me how to do stripes, colorwork and motif knitting. Have you always wanted to be a designer?

Actually, no. 1 wanted to be a commercial or fine artist. I became a designer because 1 wanted to win a set of knitting needles. You wanted what?

Needles. I'm very serious about them—I have hundreds of pairs lying around my apartment. Back in 1981, McCall's Needlecraft magazine ran a sweater contest, and one of the prizes was a set of needles. The deadline was looming, but I was on my way to the

This Nicky Epstein design first appeared in the Fall 2004 issue.

With scores of sweater and afghan designs in print and seven books under her belt, Nicky Epstein is one of the most prolific knitters working today. She uses yarn and needles in I endlessly innovative ways to sculpt flowers, ruffles, corded I closures and other embellishments, turning simple sweaters, I hats and afghans into three-dimensional works of art. Vogue I Knitting got her to set down her needles just long enough t j I talk about knitting, designing and her book Knitting On the I Edge (Sixth&Spring Books), which hit bookshelves in the I spring of 2004. I

California desert to work on a television commercial. I pulled over at a yarn shop, grabbed the first skeins I found and worked on the sweater for the entire journey. I finished it, tossed it in the mail and promptly forgot about it. Several months later the publisher called to tell me that I'd won first prize—$500—and asked me to design more sweaters for the magazine. You must have been thrilled.

What I really wanted to know was whether I could still have the needles. It was the tirst thing I asked. The editors teased me about it for years. So did you get them?

Yes—and I still have them. 1 also got my first lesson in meeting a deadline: 1 was asked to submit designs for two more sweaters in a week. And you managed to do it?

I'm fast. I use long aluminum needles, anchoring one under my armpit and keeping the stitches close to the tips. I think wooden ones are beautiful, but they are too slow for me.

Sounds like you work well under pressure.

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